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Bullet in the Head (Hong Kong Legends)

by Martin Cleary

DVD Info
Hong Kong Legends Release
Content : Two Discs
Format : Letterbox
Languages: Cantonese, English
Audio: Stereo, 5.1
Subtitles: English
Region: 2

Disc 1:
The Film :

An excellent transfer of the film with a small amount of noticeable grain on the picture (although it’s still a strong picture) and a decent soundtrack. Language tracks are the usual Cantonese with English subtitles and an English dub for lazy people or those who can’t read quick enough.Special Features:

- Commentary track with Asian Film expert Bey Logan: Up to his usual high quality, although it’s a shame they couldn’t convince John Woo to partner up on this track.

- Further Attractions:

HONG KONG LEGENDS: The Killer, Naked Weapon, Tiger On The Beat, Moon Warriors, Skinny Tiger Fatty Dragon, Iron Monkey

PREMIER ASIA: The Grudge, Ichi The Killer, Volcano High, Bang-Rajan, Bichunmoo, The Warrior

Disc 2:

THE PLAYERS:- Baptism Of Fire: An Interview With Jacky Cheung (14.28m): He discusses his move form singing to acting, his relationship with John Woo and experiences on Bullet In The Head. He even says that he feels he could be over-acting in the film! Very good.

- Paradise Lost: An Interview With Waise Lee (14m): The bad guy of the film discusses his working relationships with the actors and John Woo. Says his acting in the film was influenced by Al Pacino’s Scarface!

- Biting The Bullet: An Interview With Simon Yam (16.56,): Interviewed by Bey Logan, Yam discusses his love of acting and action films as well as his experiences on the film-set. He thinks BITH is a perfect film.

THE ARTISTS:

- Tempting Fate: An Interview With Patrick Leung (19.30m): The Assistant Director and screenwriter talks about the films poor reception on its initial release as well as the way the film strives to find it’s own realism.

- A Walk On The Wild Side: An Interview With Lau Chi-Ho (14.28m): The Action Directordiscusses his working relationship with John Woo. He also tells some really good on-set stories.

- Natural Selection: An Interview With David Wu (32.30m): The editor has worked with JohnWoo since A Better Tomorrow. He describes how the two met at the Shaw Brothers studios and all of the films since. This is a very enjoyable interview.

THE ARCHIVE:

- Trailers: Original Theatrical Trailers for Bullet In The Head (3.56m) and UK Promotional Trailer (2.02m), Once A Thief (1.50m), The Killer (4.58m)

- Alternate Ending (3.39m): The picture and sound quality isn’t as good as the film but it’s not bad. This more subdued ending to the film omits the fancy car chase at the end. It’s an interesting, quiter conclusion that probably fits the film better than the released ending.

- Life Through A Lens: A Retrospective With John Woo (13m): This is an interview with anAmerican guy who asks the same questions that Woo must’ve heard a thousand times before – e.g. ‘Tell me about the theme of ‘honour’’. Thankfully John Woo answers the questions more broadly than necessary to provided some good insights to his work and ideas as an artist.

- Reflections On Bullet In The Head With Bey Logan (4.51m): A short feature where Bey Logan talks about the film and visits a couple of the films locations in Hong Kong. It’s way too short.

INFORMATION LIBRARY:

-Bullet In The Head Notes: 12 page text on the film

-Biographies: John Woo / Tony Leung / Jacky Cheung / Waise Lee / Simon Yam
All of these are text-only biographies. They’re fairly detailed although personally I’m not that keen on reading pages and pages from the television screen.

Conclusion
There’s a massive amount to recommend on this release – all of the extra features are of a high quality and can’t really be criticised. Unfortunately there’s very little input from John Woo himself or leading man Tony Leung. You can’t help thinking that there may be a 3-disc version someday to include these oversights– the classic film certainly warrants it! That’s not to say that this is a poor release – this is one of the most thorough sets I’ve seen. An amazing effort from Hong Kong Legends.

Presentation (Cover / Menus): 9/10
Picture: 8/10
Subtitles: 9/10
Special Features: 8/10
Disc Overall: 9/10

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